Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Problem drinking and physical intimate partner violence against women: evidence from a national survey in Uganda

Nazarius Mbona Tumwesigye1*, Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo2, Thomas Kennedy Greenfield3 and Rhoda K Wanyenze4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda

2 Department of Women studies, School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Kampala, Uganda

3 Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Emeryville, CA, USA

4 Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2012, 12:399  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-399

Published: 6 June 2012



Problem drinking has been identified as a major risk factor for physical intimate partner violence (PIPV) in many studies. However, few studies have been carried on the subject in developing countries and even fewer have a nationwide perspective. This paper assesses the patterns and levels of PIPV against women and its association with problem drinking of their sexual partners in a nationwide survey in Uganda.


The data came from the women’s dataset in the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey of 2006. Problem drinking among sexual partners was defined by women’s reports that their partner got drunk sometimes or often and served as the main independent variable while experience of PIPV by the women was the main dependent variable. In another aspect problem drinking was treated an ordinal variable with levels ranging from not drinking to getting drunk often. A woman was classified as experiencing PIPV if her partner pushed or shook her; threw something at her; slapped her; pushed her with a fist or a harmful object; kicked or dragged her, tried to strangle or burn her; threatened/attacked her with a knife/gun or other weapon. General chi-square and chi-square for trend analyses were used to assess the significance of the relationship between PIPV and problem drinking. Multivariate analysis was applied to establish the significance of the relationship of the two after controlling for key independent factors.


Results show that 48% of the women had experienced PIPV while 49.5% reported that their partners got drunk at least sometimes. The prevalence of both PIPV and problem drinking significantly varied by age group, education level, wealth status, and region and to a less extent by occupation, type of residence, education level and occupation of the partner. Women whose partners got drunk often were 6 times more likely to report PIPV (95% CI: 4.6-8.3) compared to those whose partners never drank alcohol. The higher the education level of the women the less the likelihood of experiencing PIPV (ptrend < 0.001). Similar relationship was found between wealth status and experiencing PIPV.


Problem drinking among male partners is a strong determinant of PIPV among women in Uganda. PIPV prevention measures should address reduction of problem drinking among men. Longerterm prevention measures should address empowerment of women including ensuring higher education, employment and increased income.

Gender based violence; Domestic violence; Physical intimate partner violence; Drunkenness; Intoxication; Alcohol consumption; Frequency of alcohol consumption; Logistic regression; Socio-economic status; Economic empowerment; Violence against women